Don’t Sit on the Baby!

Baby-Sitting coverThe Franklin-Watts Concise Guide to Baby-Sitting

Submitter: [Here is] a babysitting book from the 70’s. Apparently the going rate then was $0.75/hour, and there are references to sleep-in servants and tie dye jeans, as well as specific reassurance that it is acceptable for female sitters to wear pants.

Holly: My favorite line: “This doesn’t mean you have to dress like a square; it just means that you don’t wear your wildest tie-dyed jeans or your tightest hot pants” (p.42, image below). Then what the heck will I wear?

Boy, that cover is showing every inch of its 45 years, isn’t it? The cover art, the crinkles, and the tape do not help. I do like Tomie De Paola’s illustrations, but they don’t save this book from the weed pile.

An Introduction to Baby-Sitting

How to establish rates

Handling the Parents



  1. I babysat, as a teenager, in the early 70s, and I’m pretty sure I got a few dollars an hour. I actually took whatever the parents offered! And I never even owned a pair of tie-dyed jeans! T-shirts yes, we dyed them ourselves with Rit dye. I wore what I wore to school. The parents I babysat for knew how I dressed already, they were neighbors. In fact, I got my first babysitting job when the mother next door came to my house to ask if I babysat! I guess my “hot pants” weren’t too hot!

  2. While she may be something of a swinger herself
    Oh, dear. I guess the word “swinger” did not have the meaning in 1972 that I thought it did.

    Incidentally, 75¢/hour is spot on, at least for the middle-class small town where I grew up. One of my contemporaries charged 25¢ per child, but most had a flat rate. I remember one three-child family that I had to babysit for 50¢/hour because the struggling single mother was a friend of my own mother–who did not have the decency and/or common sense to quietly slip me the other 25¢ under the table. (As you can see, this still rankles.)

    1. Back then, a “swinger” meant someone who was hip and cool — the word was a bit of a holdover from the Sinatra era. Like so many words and phrases, it’s, uh, evolved over the years…

    2. In Canada I mostly got $1 an hour at that time, double that on New Year’s Eve. No difference to how many kids, but I never had less than two, usually one in diapers. On the home front, after I told my mom how the babysitter was trying on her clothes, I got the job of babysitting. I was twelve. I got paid a bit (about 50 cents an hour) and my siblings got a quarter each to listen to what I told them to do. Which worked very well. And none of them was in diapers.

  3. As a kid in the 70’s and 80’s my babysitters usually were my grandmother or my then-unmarried aunt. But then again, we lived in the country where it was still like the 1940’s.

  4. As a child of the 90’s/early 2000’s, I had the American Red Cross and Babysitter’s Club as references. No one I knew ever needed a babysitter.

  5. I started baby-sitting outside the family in 1968, and got $0.50/hour. I was 13, but would be left with infants because I was the oldest of 5 and had been taking care of my baby brother (1 year old when I started baby-sitting) in my parents’ absence ever since he was born.

    The advice about people thinking it’s OK to take advantage of the young is entirely correct. Looking back, I do think some people took advantage of me; I particularly remember one father who probably should not have been driving me home. But I loved having my own money, and also the chance to see how other people lived.

  6. I love Tommy de Paola’s illustrations so much! That’s clearly the grandma from “Watch Out for the Chicken Feet in Your Soup,” aka Tommy’s own Nana.

  7. Love that last page’s lines about “Mrs. Smith” and how she “may be a swinger herself…”


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